Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar said, on Wednesday 09/08/2010, his fighters were close to victory in driving foreign forces out of Afghanistan, flouting claims of progress against the militants by the top military commander there (see –Momentum Rversed). 

In a statement emailed to media marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and attributed to the reclusive Taliban chief, Omar called on President Barack Obama to withdraw USA troops “unconditionally and as soon as possible.” “The expansion, momentum and success of this jihadi resistance … has now approached close to its destination,” the statement said in a section addressed to the Afghan people. 

“I assure you, our days of sufferings and hardship will not prolong furthermore. Soon, if God willing, our grieved hearts will find solace as the invading enemy is ousted,” an English version of the email statement said. 

Last month, the commander of USA and NATO-ISAF forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus said he saw “areas of progress” in the war and that momentum by the militants had been checked in their strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand. 

If genuine, Wednesday’s statement would appear to be Omar’s first public reaction since Petraeus’s comments and follows a rebuff by a Taliban spokesman late last month. 

Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since Mullah Omar and his hard-line movement were overthrown in late 2001, with a record number of foreign troop casualties and soaring civilian deaths. 

The militants have managed to spread their campaign outside of their traditional bases in the south and east despite the presence of some 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan. 

In a section of the statement addressed to the “American Rulers and the misinformed American People,” Omar called for a quick withdrawal of USA troops. “This is in your interest and in the interest of your people and the best option for regional stability,” the statement said. 

Mullah Omar, seen as the founder of the Taliban movement that emerged during the civil war of the early 1990s, has not been seen in public for years. He is believed to be in Pakistan. 

While other leaders are believed to be more involved in the day-to-day command of the insurgency in Afghanistan, Omar is still considered the spiritual head of the hard-line movement. 
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